Self-driving cars are not at all new. Many car manufacturers around the world are now racing towards the first commercially available autonomous vehicle. But Volvo has something in mind: a self-driving car not for leisure driving but for garbage collection.
Photo by Volvo Trucks
The Swedish company’s subsidiary Volvo Trucks has developed a self-driving garbage truck. It revealed that the truck is able to drive itself an hour after taking about an hour to learn its surroundings, thanks to its Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) and GPS for mapping and positioning.
However, it’s not entirely autonomous. The truck still needs a human to drive it to its neighborhood and look for the bins.
Photo by Volvo Trucks
But much of the self-driving technology of this garbage truck is useful when the garbage collectors head to the next bin. That’s because the truck would automatically reverse upon the garbage collector or driver’s instruction.
Hans Zachrisson, Strategic Development Manager at Renova said in a press statement why this is important: “By reversing the truck, the driver can constantly remain close to the compactor unit instead of having to repeatedly walk between the rear and the cab every time the truck is on the move.
“And since the driver doesn’t have to climb in and out of the cab at every start and stop, there’s less risk of work related injuries such as strain on the knees and other joints.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, garbage collectors are more likely to die on the job than a police officer. Other than the lower back injuries, the garbage collectors suffer from foot fractures, bruised knees and torn hands.
In the same press statement, Carl Johan Almqvist, Traffic & Product Safety Director of Volvo Trucks said, “Driving a heavy commercial vehicle in an urban residential area with narrow streets and vulnerable road users naturally imposes major demands on safety, even when the vehicle’s speed doesn’t exceed a normal walking pace.”
He added that with the truck the company is now testing, it continuously monitors its surrounding and immediately stops if an obstacle suddenly appears on the road.
“At the same time, the automated system creates better prerequisites for the driver to keep a watchful eye on everything that happens near the truck,” Almqvist further said.
Prototypes will be built by Volvo Trucks in partnership with Swedish waste management company, Renova.
Source: Volvo Trucks